Noiseless Nights and Happy Homeworking

When thinking about sounds, it’s easy to muse over birdsong, gurgling streams, children playing happily and ice-cream vans in the distance. Pleasant and comforting. But when sounds become a nuisance, when it intrudes into your peaceful activities, we think of this as noise. Constantly rumbling traffic or boy racers; loud conversations right outside your front door or a street argument at chucking-out time; a barking dog in next door’s garden; loud (and rubbish) music played at ear-splitting volume are all likely to get into your head when at home, and spoil the mood.

Noise can be more than an irritation, it can really disrupt your sleep. It can break your concentration when working from home; drown out conversations or the TV so you end up shouting or turning the volume up too high. Familiar? A quick online search pointed out that regular exposure to noise can also cause anxiety, headaches and higher blood pressure, so all in all, it’s worth taking steps to combat this, if you are living in an affected location.

We are concentrating here on noise from outside the home (or office) intruding into your domestic (or work) activities – the peaceful enjoyment of your own space doing necessary things or just goofing around enjoying yourself. You can hear what’s going on outside, you’d like to either “turn it down” or shut it out completely, so what can you reasonably do? Well we recommend you start with your windows, as these are generally the acoustic weak spots of the building. Windows can have draughty frames which will also let noise through, they are often thinly glazed, lacking the mass to reflect much of the noise. Even double glazing needs supplementing for the worst locations. Glass itself is a resonant material, so any glass pane or sealed unit is capable of passing on sound waves, as are metal window frames.

So how can you reduce these noises? There are a lot of different products out there, such as:

  • triple or double glazing – will definitely improve double or single glazed windows, but at a price. You will almost certainly have to wait for installation (with all the dust and disruption it brings) unless you fancy having windows replaced in the middle of January, when the window industry is generally quiet
  • acoustic glass – two sheets of glass with a softer clear plastic layer sandwiched inside, to significantly reduce reverberation of the pane with the onward transmission of the sound waves. Again expensive and may not be possible to retrofit to existing panes
  • secondary glazing – this is where we recommend starting, as it can be very quick (particularly DIY options), certainly a whole heap less expensive, and has the flexibility to allow very effective air gaps for better insulation. Always look at sealing the outer windows with proper draught excluders at the same time (and this all gives you the heat insulation you expect as part of the same package).
  • traditional measures – shutters and heavy curtains (help with sound but you lose light), ear plugs and white noise machines (fighting noise with noise) and countless more, but they tend to deal with the sound once it has already got into your property

You may want to start with more detailed research. Our Noise Reduction page is relatively technical – we get so many enquiries from customers having noise issues – as we are not just pushing products, we like to offer solutions that we’ve worked out first. It’s all based on trapping air between two surfaces, with the wider the gap the better. Have a look for yourself on The page also contains two videos of ours; one illustrates what sound is and rudimentary ways of reducing it (but all demonstrated visually); the other was an earlier experiment with a decibel meter, a car horn and different levels of window insulation. We hope these prove to be of interest.

One last point we gleaned, after investigating how sound and music studios insulate. In rare cases like these, the techniques are used to keep sound from getting out as well as in, so if you have a teenager (always blame the teenager…!) listening to music at silly volumes, or someone in the house is learning to play drums, the measures we describe and provide work just as well in reverse.

For further reading and product information, try starting here for secondary glazing products:

For draught excluders visit this page:

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